Bio: Native New Yorker. Traveled around the world solo. Lived in seven states, two countries and on two continents. Wrote four books. Sang back up on one Tiny Tim Christmas album. Rode an elephant.Featured on Oprah’s Remembering Your Spirit segment. Don’t own a television. Introverted but nobody believes it. Failed 10th grade geometry; aced graduate school statistics. Was a vegetarian for 18 years until I woke up one morning screaming, “Tuna!” Wrote a newspaper magazine column called Dating Gina in which there was very little dating. Ran three marathons and at the end of each always wondered, Why? Latest heroes are writing teacher and artist Lynda Barry and Expressive Arts pioneer Shaun McNiff. Would eat an avocado a day if I could find truly ripe ones with no bruises or strings…and someone to slice them for me
Writing Origins: I've wanted to write for as long as I've known how to read - since 1965. I didn't do anything about it for almost 30 years. In 1999, the Universe put in me in the path of The Hartford Courant, Connecticut's largest newspaper and a two-time Pulizter prize winner.
First Break: I was working on the business side of the paper as the Director of Strategic Planning. When some of the key editors learned I liked to write they asked to see my work and quickly (as in weeks later), I was earning freelance income in addition to my full-time salary. It was scary (the "Am I good enough demons?" always wanting to steal focus) and exhilerating "I'm a published writer!") all at once.
Second Break: I took a solo trip around the world and wrote about it for The Courant's Web site. My five-month column chronicling my trip was called Journey with Gina.
Third Break: The editor of the Opinion Page read Journey with Gina and when I returned to the United States invited me to be an opinion columnist! I was on a roll.
Big Risk: Quit my full-time job at the paper to travel solo around the world and then freelance full time. These were hard but fertile times: I learned a lot and honed my chops writing a column for The Courant and freelancing for other vehicles like Essence Magazine. During this period, I also got the idea for my first book, Cheaper Than Therapy: How to Keep Life's Small Problems from Becoming Big Ones, which illustrates The Lesson of the Paper Clips.
Confidence Booster: My Lives Page essay, "No Tears For Frankie" published in the New York Times Magazine in April 2001.
Family Influences: My Dad, who loved to read and who read to me as a child. He instilled a love of books and language from birth. Also, my Dad wanted to write but never did. I know that pained him but he could never get past his personal demons to get the writing out of him. So, Dad's dreams of writing died when he did in 2004. Seeing the pain of unfulfilled dreams up close in someone I love helps me to know that whatever challenges I face writing a new book or gaining wide exposure for an existing one is far outweighed by the look of sadness and despair I saw etched into my father's face in the last years of his life.
Writing Teachers: I've studied twice with Natalie Goldberg in New Mexico at Mabel Dodge Luhan House, William Zinsser at the New School in Manhattan, Lynda Barry at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and Mary Karr at Omega in Rhinebeck, New York.
Motivation: I'm COMPELLED to write. Other interests have come and gone over the years but the desire to write remains constant.